Savory La Sandia: Tamale Fest Opens

The Santa Monica restaurant is ladling on the mole through January.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013  |  Updated 12:47 PM PDT
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Savory La Sandia: Tamale Fest Opens

La Sandia

La Sandia's 3rd Annual Tamale Festival is on every day at the Santa Monica outpost through Jan. 31.

If October is the season for candy and caramel apples, and July is the time of year we turn to watermelon and strawberries, what's December's main foodstuffs?

Cookies are up there, and latkes, and fruitcakes, yes. But main courses, the centerpiece entrees, are fewer, as far as iconic end-of-the-year edibles go.

There is a towering exception, and it comes donned in its own classic outerwear. That would be a corn husk, and while the cuisine's coat stays fairly standard, the filling change depending on the cook and circumstance.

Yes, we speak of the tamale, which just enjoyed its annual weekend in the sun at the International Tamale Festival in Indio and the Taste of Tamales at Olvera Street. Those first-part-of-December to-dos have wrapped, though, but fear not, flavorists: Tamales continue to reign.

And reign long. Look to La Sandia, of Santa Monica, where the 3rd annual Tamale Festival is masa-ing up the restaurant's menu through Jan. 31.

The choices? Mole-licious, which, frankly, should be some sort of official word. Tamales de Pescado a la Campeche is a fish tamale in banana leaves -- okay, so the corn husk is changed up, now and then -- with a tomato masa and more yummy add-ins.

And the Tamale de Frijol con Queso? Self-explanatory. Beans and cheese rule this one, along with poblano crema, which, frankly should be some sort of official food group unto itself.

A trio of other December-y dishes dot the roster, so you could return a couple of times (or go for it all in one fell swoop, with some friends to help).

See? Not only does tamale season not wrap come Christmas, but it extends well into the new year. We are for this plan, and hope that masa and the post-holiday period form a long and fruitful -- or corny -- relationship.

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